Flashback Friday

March 8, 2016 — by Ariel Liu, Julia Miller, Vibha Seshradi and Jenny Qian
Reporters think back on the time they...

That time I expressed my hatred in a book
by Ariel Liu

In third grade at Argonaut Elementary School, girls were my only friends, boys were my sworn enemies and cooties were a legitimate concern. Thus, when current senior Michael Owyang dumped pencil shavings in my hair one day for sitting in his seat, I vowed to exact revenge.
I’m sure Michael had no idea he was getting himself into; he probably just really wanted his seat back. In my defense, his action catalyzed the events that followed.
As a budding journalist and writer at the ripe age of 8, I decided the best way to express my anger would be to create a construction-paper burn book, in which I compared Michael to a cucumber, among other insults.
I don’t remember what exactly what went into the book, but recently, Michael sent me a photo of the cover, and it consists of a drawing of something that resembles a vampire-ghost mix in one corner, his name spelled incorrectly in bubble letters under the words “No. 1 Evil Nerd” in the middle and “1,000 percent mean” written in another corner. Clearly, I’ve never been good at math.
After that incident, Michael and I never really talked again until recently on the Disneyland leadership trip. He told me the book made him cry (one of the multiple times I made him cry throughout third grade, apparently), and I was guilted into writing about this for the whole school to read. So Michael — I’m truly sorry, but I promise I’m a nicer person now — just no more pencil shavings in my hair, OK?

My furry but faulty obsession with Webkinz
by Julia Miller

Being the daughter of a fifth-grade teacher comes with its perks. In my six years at Foothill Elementary, my classmates were always envious that I had access to the all-powerful teachers’ room and received friendly greetings from just about every faculty member on campus.
But my personal favorite was having my mom’s classroom as a safe haven. Not only did it protect me from the burning California sunshine in the springtime, but I also had access to the computers there. As a third-grader with a growing obsession with Webkinz, the most popular game for elementary school girls in 2008, this computer time was infinitely precious.
On the site, users adopt a virtual pet by purchasing an actual stuffed animal in stores and entering the code that came with the toy. Once on the website, Webkinz users can play multiple games, build their Webkinz home and meet other Webkinz users.
Webkinz was my not-so-guilty pleasure. I was a borderline hoarder of these stuffed animals, with my collection reaching 14 Webkinz by the end of third grade. However, this obsession was acceptable since it was the most popular conversation starter among the third-grade girl population. With my friends, I would constantly ramble on about the latest gem I had discovered in the mines for my almighty Webkinz crown or the new outfit I acquired for my pet panda to wear during her trip to the park.
In the midst of my obsession, I vaguely remember my mom being concerned for my mental well-being. When I wasn’t at school or doing homework, I was playing Webkinz. It got to the point where I would get headaches from looking at a computer screen for too long while mastering the Webkinz games to earn coins to buy more items from the store.
But like any fad, Webkinz trended and then lost popularity. Soon enough, I neglected my stash of Webkinz stuffed animals due to the fact that no one thought they were “cool” anymore, and Webkinz had become just another phase within my elementary school life.
Webkinz was instantly replaced by none other than my future fourth-grade obsession, Club Penguin. I left my palatial, multi-room Webkinz mansion and its 14 residents behind; and I won’t lie, I missed it. But, there was a new icy, penguin-filled virtual world waiting for me on the next tab of my laptop, and I wasn’t going to log off anytime soon.

That time a poster got me floor seats at a concert
by Vibha Seshadri

Who wouldn’t want to watch a bunch of teenagers break out into song and dance every five minutes? My third-grade self was completely obsessed with “High School Musical” (HSM). When my parents told me I could attend the HSM concert at the HP Pavilion with my best friend from Carden Academy, I thanked them with loud shrieks of excitement that are usually heard on roller coasters.
Of course, we had to create a poster to be our accessory of the evening. As wide-eyed, overly excited 8-year-olds, my friend and I probably spent five hours working on our colorful masterpiece — it had to be perfect. We divided the poster into four quadrants, shading in each with a different color of the Crayola Crayon set. Then we cut out pictures of the cast and pasted them in each quadrant next to supportive comments, such as “You rock!”
At the actual concert, we approached one of the concert officials, hoping he could give us directions to our seats. That’s when the poster worked its magic. He looked at it and said something along the lines of, “We have three empty seats on the floor — would you like to sit there instead?” While my friend and I were spazzing out in excitement, jumping around like a bunch of, well, crazy 8-year-olds, my mom replied with the word that was running through our heads: “Yes.”
Every time I hear “Stick to the Status Quo” or “All in This Together,” I will never forget the awesome poster that allowed us to watch the cast of our favorite movie from just 19 rows away.

Kufufu: my off-campus lunch spot in fourth grade
by Jenny Qian

When looking back on their elementary school experiences, most people remember long recesses spent on the monkey bars or playing state tag. But for my fourth-grade friends and me, lunch was always spent off campus from Argonaut Elementary— in a tree, to be exact.
Kufufu, a tree named for the sounds anime characters would make when laughing by the anime-obsessed juniors Jackie Han and Christine Wang, was a secret hiding spot where my three friends and I would hang out after school and hide from the parent supervisors during lunch. Despite getting in trouble and being caught by teachers numerous times, we only became more motivated in our rebellious childhood years to sneak off campus.
Every lunch, we rushed to eat our food and sprinted out the cafeteria as fast as we could. We began by casually walking toward the nearby playground. As soon as the coast was clear, we one by one ran toward the Christmas-like tree that was near the way back of the school and into an opening that branched out into a long passage inside the tree.
It made a perfect resting place for us, and day by day, we all worked to revamp our new secret club house.
In the mornings during break, we would run with our arms filled with bags of Hot Cheetos and hide them in the nearby bushes, picking them up after school when we would hang out inside Kufufu. Squatting on rocks, we would gossip about whatever anime series we had watched the night before or play with stuffed animals we had brought.
Throughout the last two years of elementary school, we constantly visited the place and introduced our hiding place to a couple outsiders, such as juniors Yuna Kim and Ellicia Chiu.
“No matter how much trouble we got into with the adults, we still continued running in there during school,” fellow Kufufu inhabitant, junior Amy Chiang said. “I think the scariest part was when [Argonaut principal] Mr. Chapman, got mad at us for going. But we couldn’t help it, since we practically designed the area.”
Even though the tree was cut down a few years ago, visiting the area still reminds us of our cool and rebellious days spent after school hanging out there. Whenever someone brings up the word “Kufufu,” we all still laugh at our silliness and stealth — but more importantly, we wonder how we managed to not get suspended from elementary school.

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